Interview with Shah Wharton

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in various places situated in the West Midlands area of the United Kingdom. The industrial centre of the working classes was mostly left-wing and not too well off. My parents divorced when I was 7 years old and I had difficult relationships with my father, my step-father and my older brother. I have always been painfully introverted, which made me a prime target for bullies throughout four schools, and at some point I also developed bipolar disorder.

Therefore, the darkness of my childhood has certainly influenced my personality and ultimately, my writing. I tend to enjoy reading and writing about deep, dark characters who get by in spite of life's difficulties, and in fantastical worlds. This appeals to my love of fantasy and escapism, but I don't allow my characters to be depressing... there must always be a little humour. :)
When did you first start writing?
My father got me into writing poetry as a child and it all grew from there. It was just a very private form of catharsis for most of my life, and I never intended to actually publish any of it. But then I discovered I shared my poems and gained a following. Then I branched out into flash fiction challenges, then short story challenges, and got bitten by the bug of fiction writing. Then I followed a lot of my pals from that site and started up my own blog. From there I have learned so much about the craft of writing (and continue to do so) and about the indie-publishing revolution. I found so many talented indies and thought, if they can do it, what's stopping me? Let's give it a go. :)
What's the story behind your latest book?
It all began three years ago with a short story about a fledgling journalist who investigates the haunting of a large, spooky house, but discovers something quite different to ghosts behind the crumbling walls. I fell in love with the main character, Luna, and before I knew it, I’d developed a story spanning three books.

Luna has not had a great life when we first meet her. She is cursed with psychic touch, sun sensitivity and extreme empathy – all of which exclude her from the world around her. She also hosts Shadows within her battered mind, and these are the only companions she’s ever had. Her parents are plain cruel and even at 23 years old, she reverts to a child in their presence.

When she’s given a lead about a cold-case in Cornwall, featuring a kidnapped baby (Esta) and her disappearing parents bodies, she gets excited. Not only could it be an exciting story, but it could bring rewards for her career, and perhaps even pride from her parents.

No one, not even Luna with her over-intimate knowledge of the Shadow Lands, and the hearts and minds of humanity, could be prepared for what she finds in Cornwall. Luna begins the arduous journey of self-discovery, while the world she knew implodes.

I chose to set the action in Cornwall because I’m a quarter Cornish and love St Ives. I wanted to capture its magical quality, to set the scene. I had to research a few things, like names of streets, and about the train Luna takes to reach Esta’s house, where she finds much more than she expects. But the way it looked, the way Cornwall felt, is written from childhood memories.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly? Fear. I just couldn't bear getting rejected a million times before someone decided to offer me a chance. I believed in my book enough to invest in it, to publish it myself. Plus, like I said, it's a revolution. One day I might try to publish a novel traditionally. Perhaps. Although, two poems and one short story are traditionally published, so I suppose that make me a 'hybrid publisher' in the mildest sense of the term. ;)
What do your fans mean to you?
There really is little else in the world that makes me smile more than a great review or an email from a fan, telling me how much they loved my writing. Without them, any author is a balloon without air, let's face it.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on book two of the Supes Series: Finding Luna. Finding Esta has recently been made available for print and I got to hold a copy. That is a historical moment right there. Now I'm longing to hold the series boxed set. :)

Ridiculously short (working) synopsis of Finding Luna:

Imagine a broken young woman who's world is left in ruins. Horrific identities, forced violently upon her, trigger a growing, often frenzied desire for blood, bouts of extreme hirsutism, and (ahem) embarrassing dental issues. Imagine two love interests and the supernatural community insisting she’s their prophesied saviour and defeater of Queen Vampire Lucy ...her sire-sister

Then, imagine she is you!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Bobby, our enormous German Shepherd. I think he's mixed with a Shire horse! ;D
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Watching movies with my husband, either at home or at the cinema. We also love theatre, eating great food, and playing with the Shire horse, I mean dog. But every day I must read something... otherwise I feel odd. You know, like when you're running late for the airport and on your way there you feel an uncomfortable gut wobble which tells you that you've forgotten something. You have to either turn back to make sure and risk missing your flight, or leave it and hope you picked your passport up from your nightstand. : / I MUST read!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I get so many given to me now it's rare I ever buy them. I buy mostly recommended writing craft books. But if I do buy fiction, I tend to look for genre, try a few keywords, look at the reviews or recommendations, then when I find a list I want to choose from I look at the cover (cheap or in any other way inadequate covers with stop me cold) and blurb. With hundreds of thousands of books in most genre, getting all these things right is crucial to sales. I've learned to make my own covers because it can be such a personal and expensive thing to get right and I can reserve the cover funds for editors. There are many much cheaper places to get great covers now though. Seems another website offering ready-mades' is opening every day. I offer this service actually! :)
What is your writing process?
It was just sit down and write until I spent about two years revising, re-writing and editing the mess that created. Now I try to mix the Panster in me with the newly developing Plotter. It's great to really focus and see the scenes ahead of writing them. I'm almost there with Finding Luna, using this process. Then I'll I have to start re-writes proper, but that should be a lot less of a mare because I've plotted accurately and put everything in its place, prior to allowing my creativity to explode on the pages.
Published 2013-08-31.
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